|Ole Miss sees tipping point in LSU rivalry|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 21 November 2008 12:08|
When the Tigers overcame a 28-point hole to beat Troy 40-31 last weekend, they set a mark for the largest deficit erased in LSU history. The previous mark was a 21-point comeback against none other than Mississippi in 1977.
There's no need to go back three decades to find an instance when LSU required late-game heroics to beat the Rebels, however. The last time Ole Miss visited Baton Rouge would suffice.
LSU trailed 20-7 with under 12 minutes to go two seasons ago and needed JaMarcus Russell's fourth-down touchdown pass to Dwayne Bowe with 14 seconds left just to tie the score. After a blocked extra point, Colt David's field goal in overtime sealed the victory in what had looked like a mismatch on paper.
riumph over Notre Dame. Ole Miss won only three games in 2006 and was a nearly four-touchdown underdog against the Tigers.
If the Rebels weren't intimidated by Death Valley then, they certainly won't be on Saturday. Ole Miss (6-4, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) has won three straight, earned bowl eligibility for the first time since 2003 and now looks to edge out 18th-ranked LSU for second place in the SEC West, which could result in a Cotton Bowl bid.
One of Ole Miss' wins this season also came at Florida, where LSU (7-3, 3-3) lost by 30.
``They are the team that beat Florida in Gainesville. Our football team understands what that means,'' LSU coach Les Miles said.
In its first season under former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, Ole Miss needed a few games to get rolling, but has played with enormous confidence lately. The Rebels crushed Louisiana-Monroe of the Sun Belt Conference 59-0 last weekend while LSU needed an unprecedented comeback against another Sun Belt team.
The Rebels argue that the only loss in which they didn't kill themselves with mistakes was a 24-20 defeat against top-ranked Alabama. Turnovers cost Ole Miss in its other three losses to Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Wake Forest.
they remember.' So we have to be hungry and excited to play in one of the best environments in college football.''
Ole Miss and LSU is one of the older rivalries around. This will be their 97th meeting, but only the first since student bodies of both schools finally came up with a name for it: the Magnolia Bowl.
LSU has won the last six meetings and seven of eight. But that run of Tiger dominance predates Mississippi's hiring of Nutt, who nearly ruined LSU's national championship run last season when he coached Arkansas to a triple-overtime win in Tiger Stadium on the day after Thanksgiving.
LSU recovered to win the 2007 SEC title game and won the national title anyway, which in retrospect made Nutt's accomplishment against the Tigers even more impressive. The difference was Darren McFadden's ability to run out of the single-wing formation, nicknamed the ``Wild Hog'' at Arkansas.
Nutt has made the formation part of Mississippi's offense as well, but he doesn't have to rely on it too much with the way sophomore quarterback Jevan Snead has been passing (1,983 yards and 17 touchdowns).
Snead has given Ole Miss more consistency at quarterback lately than LSU has gotten from redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee, whose performances routinely range from inept to heroic within a single game.
time this season. After LSU fell behind 31-3, many fans went home early in disgust.
Yet Lee, who finished the game 20-of-34 for 216 yards and a touchdown, made several brilliant throws as LSU stormed back to win. He wound up being cheered like a conquering hero by the fans who remained.
``He did some things (last) Saturday that he hasn't done to this point,'' Miles said. ``He's managing the position better and better. Whether the light switch is on in every room or not, I'm not certain, but I can tell you that most of the house is lit. I like what's going on.''